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News / Health / Clark County Health

Camas dentist spearheads program on dealing with dental trauma

By Wyatt Stayner, Columbian staff writer
Published: September 17, 2018, 6:05am
4 Photos
Dr. Ron Hsu looks over X-rays with patient Taryn Hatfield of Washougal, 6, center, and Taryn’s mom, Leah, at Storybook Dental in Camas. Hsu is working on a countywide program to help educate local schools on how to treat dental trauma and tooth avulsions.
Dr. Ron Hsu looks over X-rays with patient Taryn Hatfield of Washougal, 6, center, and Taryn’s mom, Leah, at Storybook Dental in Camas. Hsu is working on a countywide program to help educate local schools on how to treat dental trauma and tooth avulsions. Photos by Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian Photo Gallery

Dr. Ron Hsu’s calling is higher than just being a dentist, so it makes sense that he’d expand his endeavors beyond his practice, Storybook Dental in Camas.

“In many ways, I’m still interested in helping people out with real, big problems,” Hsu said.

That’s a driving factor in Hsu’s decision to start a countywide program aimed at helping educate people how to treat dental trauma, and also tooth avulsions, where teeth fall completely out.

“When you are able to do it correctly and save your teeth, save your smile, (patients are) incredibly grateful,” Hsu said. “It’s very satisfying to be able to say, ‘Hey, I didn’t just fix a small cavity. I actually put somebody’s smile back together.’ ”

To Learn More

Buy a Save-a-Tooth kit: www.saveatooth.com/buy-now

Hsu started making training presentations to local schools in January about his program, which is mostly aimed at informing local school nurses on how to properly handle severe dental damage. There’s research that suggests about one in three kids have had some kind of dental trauma by high school, and Hsu has provided Save-a-Tooth kits to the Vancouver, Evergreen, Battle Ground and Camas school districts.

Hsu was able to acquire the kits through a Clark County Dental Society grant, and was even able to get a 35 percent bulk discount on them.

“As I train the nurses, I give them a kit each,” Hsu said.

Hsu acknowledged that while school nurses are already fairly educated on how to handle the situation, most of the general public is lacking the information.

The Save-a-Tooth kits contain a balanced salt solution that helps the root survive. If a tooth falls out, you pick it up by the white part and place it in the kit, which contains slots to hold the root. Then screw the container shut.

The kit claims it can help the tooth survive for 24 hours, although Hsu recommends seeing a dentist much sooner than that. Still, the kit can prove very valuable.

“It might happen out on the coast, it might happen in the middle of nowhere. You might not be able to get to your dentist on time,” Hsu said. “This solution does buy time.”

If you wait too long to place the tooth back in, the clotting and inflammation that happen within the socket will make the environment unfavorable for re-implementation.

“You almost have to re-create an injury to re-implement,” Hsu said.

The one big no-no with an avulsed tooth is putting it in water, Hsu said, noting that if you did that you would “have killed everything in about 15 minutes.” Milk is one of the better options if you don’t have a kit.

Hsu’s goal is to grow his program. He wants to do presentations and work with referees and coaches next, since sports can be ground zero for tooth avulsions.

“If I had my wish, I’d teach the whole country,” Hsu said.

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Columbian staff writer